Monday, May 4, 2015

First Bite: Blaze Pizza

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 2:43 PM

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Blaze Pizza is the latest addition to the fast-casual dining landscape in Brentwood. While some may lament the small number of independent local restaurants, the fact is the demographics of Brentwood’s restaurant-supporting community — office park employees and busy families — makes it incredibly attractive to fast-casual dining chains, which offer higher-quality food than fast-food restaurants but serve it quickly.

Blaze Pizza touts itself as “the Chipotle of pizza” (side note: the actual Chipotle of pizza, Pizzeria Locale, has yet to come to Tennessee) opened just a couple of weeks ago and is already drawing steady crowds. But the line moves quickly, thanks to Blaze’s 800-degree oven, which finishes off a freshly topped pizza in just three minutes. By the time you’ve filled up your drink, you’ve likely already got a pizza ready to eat.

Even better, the pizza is good. The 11-inch crusts are rolled out thin in advance of topping for greater speed, and you choose every part of the pizza — sauces and toppings — as you shuffle down the assembly line. A menu of specialty pizzas exists as a group of good suggestions, or you can make your own from the large selection of toppings. In addition to the usual suspects, toppings include six base sauces, goat and feta cheeses as well as fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic, fresh basil, arugula, and spinach, and three types of olives. Meats include applewood bacon, crumbled meatballs and smoked ham. Gluten-free dough and vegan cheeses are also available.

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New Lunch Options at The Sutler and Acme

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 10:44 AM

The Sutlers Catfish Tacos
  • The Sutler's Catfish Tacos
Admit it. What is one of the first things you consider when picking a spot for an urban lunch? I'll bet parking is high on the list. Especially if you live or work somewhere that involves garage parking, it takes real force to overcome the inertia of already having scored a decent parking spot when you get to work, and you hate to lose it just to sneak out for a bit. (In physics terms, it's s=ut+0.5at^2.)

Two restaurants, The Sutler and Acme Feed & Seed, have added lunch options that can help you beat that friction and take advantage of the precious sustenance break at midday. Over in Melrose, The Sutler sits in the middle of a residential/commercial development that has plenty of parking spaces before Sinema opens up for dinner and jams the lot. In fact, The Sutler's owner, Austin Ray, told me that was a major reason why he decided to open up for lunch: "We've always got lots of parking, and our menu lends itself to lunch, dinner and late night."

That's true, but you might want to schedule some naptime in the afternoon. Their popular Potted Smoke appetizer leads off the small plates, and the rich smoked pork butt and brisket confit is an excellent way to kick off a decadent lunch. Healthier and slightly lighter choices include a nice selection of salads, but most of them also include a protein like fried chicken or hanger steak to make them meal-worthy. Not that I'm complaining. The Nashville Hot Nuggets are a sharable snack of spicy fried chicken breast chunks with Alabama white sauce for dipping. They were admirably hot and surprisingly juicy for white meat.

Ray is particularly proud of chef Nick Seabergh's take on their Saloon Burger. Topped with white cheddar, charred green chilies, lettuce, onion and ancho aioli and served with some of The Sutler's amazing french fries, this burger should give Ray's sister restaurant across the road a run for its money. (Although M.L. Rose does have many more burger options.) Other sandwiches are homages to The Sutler's old menu in its previous incarnation before the building was redeveloped. I've already told you about the Roast beef No. 2 as part of The Sutler's late-night menu, but it bears repeating that this is a fantastic sandwich.

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First Bite: 5th and Taylor

Posted By on Mon, May 4, 2015 at 7:54 AM

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  • Photo: Robbie Quinn
Wow, it seems like it's been a long time since we first shared the details of 5th and Taylor, Chef Daniel Lindley's new restaurant venture in Germantown. Fortunately, the wait is finally over because 5th and Taylor is officially open for business and hitting the ground running.

Last Monday, April 27, was the first official night of service, but they're still ramping up their service and finishing up what should become a very popular patio and outdoor bar. Don't be surprised if the cocktail, wine and beer list is still a little curtailed as they train their servers and bartenders on the new offerings. I've been told that there are a lot more bottles in the cellar waiting to be rolled out. That being said, the bar is prepared to mix up just about any cocktail, even if there are just three cocktails listed on the menu. (Curiously, they are numbered 2-4 and nobody was able to tell me what happened to No. 1.)

The spacious dining area is decorated with dramatic art, some from the collection of Chef Lindley, including several paintings created by the chef himself. A large statue of Revolutionary War hero Francis Nash, the namesake of our fair city, dominates the center of the dining room. The Quonset hut-like building has soaring ceilings and subdued romantic lighting, so bring your cheaters if you have trouble reading menus in low light.

The menu describes dishes by their ingredients, rather than by cooking technique, but questions to the waitstaff were answered quickly and correctly. Divided into Snacks, Appetizers, Salads, Entrees, Grilled Items, Other and Sides, the menu lists a tight roster of American fare. On my first visit, we managed to taste through a small portion of the offerings, but were impressed by everything we tried.

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Friday, May 1, 2015

Josephine Chef Andy Little Develops New Interactive X|X Weekend Menu

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 10:43 AM

A lovely taste of Spring
  • A lovely taste of Spring
Chef Andy Little continues to be on a roll at Josephine in the 12South neighborhood. He's been earning acclaim for his clever menu of "refined American farmhouse cuisine," and now he's stepping out of the kitchen to interact with a select group of patrons every Friday and Saturday night in a special dining experience he's calling "x|x." The two x's represent 10 by 10, as in 10 small courses cooked by Little and pastry chef Kayla May especially for 10 patrons seated at one of Josephine's communal tables.

But don't worry if you don't have nine friends to join you for dinner; you can reserve the whole table or any number up to 10, space allowing. Once those 10 seats are reserved in advance for one of the 8 p.m. seatings on Friday and Saturday nights, that's it. Everybody else in the restaurant will just have to sit back and turn green with envy as they watch the spectacle coming out of the kitchen.

And it is a spectacle, as several of the courses emerge already plated (planked?) on a long 2-by-10 board that is set along the center of the table with a great flourish. I was fortunate to try out a test run of the x|x concept, and it was entertaining and darned convenient to see how they had perfectly spaced the dishes on the plank so that each diner had access to their individual helping.

Although it is intended to be a tasting menu, the courses aren't necessarily just small bites. While some were just a flavorful morsel, most were the equivalent of a nice tapas portion. Organized around themes like "Snacks," "Spring" or "Goo Goo," Little's menu will change frequently according to seasonally available ingredients. While courses like the amazing "everything bagel" Pretzel and Pork Belly might not need to change seasonally, Little hopes to keep himself creatively challenged by swapping out dishes on a weekly basis.

Little and May describe each course as it comes out, and they're actually doing the bulk of the cooking of the x|x menu in Josephine's kitchen. "I'm really excited about starting the x|x experience at Josephine. It allows me the opportunity to have personal interactions with the guests who join us while composing a thoughtful menu throughout ten courses. I'm excited about cooking and describing each course to the guests in an environment that is uniquely Josephine."

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Open Thread: What's Your Favorite 'Old Nashville' Restaurant?

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 9:08 AM

Shrimp remoulade from Jimmy Kellys
This week in Dining, Steve Cavendish makes his first visit in 20 years to Jimmy Kelly's Steakhouse, the 80-year-old grand dame of Nashville's restaurant scene. While not our oldest restaurant (that would be Varallo's, which started serving chile bowls in 1907), Jimmy Kelly's is known as the place where deals get done — it's been a popular spot for movers and shakers for decades — and also the place you go when you want to celebrate big. Maybe with a filet mignon, Chateubriand or a bowl of gigantic shrimp chilled on ice with remoulade sauce. You can back that beef with a nice glass of red wine, or even more traditionally, a tumbler of whiskey.

Cavendish loved it. The dining scene alone is something to see. Unlike many Nashville restaurants, he says, which peak at 7:30, "Kelly's doesn't really get rolling until well after 8, with people arriving for a drink at the cozy bar before slipping into one of the well-worn, quite comfortable chairs for dinner."

And even if you're not a political kingmaker — like Tom Ingram, who's into his fourth decade as a Kelly's regular with a booth of his own — Jimmy Kelly's is a special place.

So, Bites Nation, what's your favorite Old Nashville restaurant? Kelly's for its pageantry and tasty steaks? Varallo's for a hot chile bowl and more than a century of family service? Maybe Sportsman's Grille, going strong since 1985? Where else?

I, myself, champion Pancake Pantry (opened in 1961) as my neighborhood breakfast and lunch place — it's got a broad menu that tackles pancakes and eggs in delicious, multifarious forms, house-made soup and veteran waitresses with the wit to crack you up over your eggs.

And what else is on your mind?

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Eat Wings and Drink Beer at Sevier Park Fest This Weekend

Posted By on Fri, May 1, 2015 at 8:08 AM

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The third edition of this weekend's popular Sevier Park Fest promises to be bigger and better than ever! They've added a Friday night concert to the schedule, and the 12South park will be hopping all weekend, May 1-2, with event and vendors vying for your eating and drinking attention.

One highlight will be a hot wing-eating contest on Saturday at 3 p.m. sponsored by Edley's Bar-B-Que. I don't know whether the contest will be judged on volume, speed or heat level, but it should be entertaining. If you're looking to eat just a human (not superhuman) amount of food, there will be more than 100 vendors offering comestibles and crafts for sale around the park. There will also be an El Jimador cocktail lounge serving up craft drinks during the weekend.

Saturday's festivities are free, but you'll need to buy a ticket for the Friday night concert featuring Penny & Sparrow and Johnnyswim. While I'll admit my ignorance as to who those bands are, if they excite you, run buy your ticket at the event website. There's also a full listing of the schedule and participating vendors at that same spot.

Enjoy a big weekend in the park!

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Restaurateur Becky Piper of Pied Piper Eatery Has Died

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 5:04 PM

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Restaurant owner Becky Piper of the popular Pied Piper Eatery has died, a day after it was reported that she was in hospice care for cancer.

A note on the Facebook page for the Pied Piper Creamery ice cream shop, the Piper family's other business, stated:

Today is a sad day for the Pied Piper Empire. We have lost our Five Star General Becky Piper, owner of The Pied Piper Eatery. In her honor, we will have Ziggy Starcrunch, her favorite flavor, in the case this weekend.

Rest in peace, sister.

Managers at both restaurants confirmed that Piper had died, but passed along word from the family that they were not yet ready to comment further.

Pied Piper Eatery opened near Riverside Village in 2008 and quickly became a favorite for families and other fans of fine diner fare served up in a friendly atmosphere. Scene restaurant critic Carrington Fox praised the Eatery's food and service in her review in 2009, adding that "the brace of homespun dining enterprises started by siblings Becky, Andy and Jenny Piper are just so freakin' adorable."

Just last month in the Food and Drink issue, the Scene's Steve Cavendish singled out Pied Piper as a family-friendly dining gem, "the Inglewood restaurant that's unafraid of your children and still serves a mean sandwich."

The Scene will share more details as they become available.

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Vote for Nashville Bartender Carley Gaskin in the Four Roses Charity Cocktail Competition

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 1:31 PM

Bartender Carley Gaskin with the Charlie Murphy
  • Bartender Carley Gaskin with the "Charlie Murphy"
Earlier this month, Carley Gaskin—who tends the bar at both No. 308 in East Nashville and Sinema in Melrose—was named the Nashville finalist in the Four Roses Charity Cocktail Challenge, which raised funds for Stupid Cancer. Gaskin and her cocktail creation, the Charlie Murphy, are now vying for the grand prize, which is a day with Four Roses master distiller Jim Rutledge. Vote for them via Four Roses’ Facebook page.

This is a story I could not resist because I love Charlie Murphy (actor/comedian and Eddie Murphy's brother). Naturally, I was curious about the name. Was there a story about a couch? Was Rick James involved at all? Gaskin responds:

I named it the Charlie Murphy because it starts sweet but ends a little bitter. That's what I like to think he's feeling living under his younger brother's fame, haha. "Unity!" Haha.

You can try the Charlie Murphy at either No. 308 or Sinema or try to re-create it at home; Gaskin has agreed to share her recipe.

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There's No Excuse for Being Dull Thanks to Edges, Now at Porter Road Butcher

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 8:01 AM

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A couple of years back, I told you all about Cathey Grossman and her Edges Nashville knife sharpening stand that she ran out of the Nashville Farmers' Market. Grossman can put a hone on just about any sort of kitchen knife, and it's worth noting that old saw (heh) that a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp one.

Edges Nashville is a reasonably priced service for any home chef that wants to keep their tools in proper condition, and now Grossman has found a new permanent home at Porter Road Butcher's West Nashville location at 4816 Charlotte Ave. She'll set up shop there on the first and second Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. She'll also make the occasional appearance at PRB's East Nashville location to help service that market, but you'll need to follow the Edges Facebook page to find out when she'll be there.

Since Porter Road is Nashville's first fully integrated butcher shop, I can't think of a better place for Edges to land. I'll be stopping by soon with my knife roll for some while-you-wait service soon!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Arnold Myint to Compete on Food Network Star

Posted By on Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 4:03 PM

Arnold Myint
  • Arnold Myint
Arnold Myint, the proprietor of PM, Suzy Wong's House of Yum and blvd (and sometime music video star), will compete with 11 others on the Food Network show Food Network Star.

Since Food Network Star (formerly called Next Food Network Star) launched 10 years ago, Bites has found it to be one of the more unwatchable shows on the increasingly unwatchable network, but the payoff is pretty good if you win: You get your own TV show on the network. You can laud or blame the show for launching Guy Fieri, the Season 2 winner.

Hosted by Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentis, the season starts on June 7 at 8 p.m.

From the Food Network site:

And in true Hollywood style, the lights of potential stardom will be shining bright as 12 eager finalists arrive for their chance at the most-sought-after career in the culinary industry: Food Network host. Led by judge-mentors Bobby and Giada, these rivals must put their dreams on the line as they take a chance on their futures during an intensive three-month process. Like last year's competitors, finalists will face weekly Mentor and Star Challenges. But with Bobby and Giada at the helm alongside a host of rotating special-guest judges, including Duff Goldman, Sunny Anderson, Richard Blais and David Alan Grier, you can be sure that unprecedented tests and downright shocking twists will force these contestants to learn quickly that the role of Star isn't as simple as the hosts make it look.

Come August, there can be only one winner, but that doesn't mean the road to victory will be clear. For finalists previously stung by the pain of elimination, their hopes for triumph aren't wholly lost — that is, if they can survive Star Salvation. This Web-exclusive series on FoodNetwork.com is designed to find the one finalist who's worthy of joining the on-air contest, and who better to lead the hopefuls on their journey to potential redemption than no-nonsense Chopped judge Alex Guarnaschelli and Food Network Star, Season 7 winner Jeff Mauro? Over the course of six episodes, they'll mentor and guide the ousted rivals though a series of both culinary-centric and camera-focused tests before ultimately deciding who's ready to rejoin the Food Network Star competition.

Meanwhile, according to Matt Rogers, Myint is having to replace chef Francesco Vito, who ran both Cha Chah and blvd while Myint has embarked on numerous side ventures. Vito has joined the staff at the soon-to-open Fifty First Kitchen and Bar, located in The Nations neighborhood of West Nashville.

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